Parsley E. coli Lawsuit and LitigationIn September of 2005, Public Health Seattle King County received an unusual number of E. coli O157:H7 reports. Case interviews by county investigators subsequently revealed that three unrelated Washington State residents had all become ill with E. coli infection after eating at the same Olive Garden restaurant in Federal Way; two were hospitalized. The interviews further revealed that all four individuals had eaten the house salad and fresh parsley used either as a topping or as an ingredient in entrees.
On September 29, 2005, WDOH received a report that two Kitsap County residents had been hospitalized with E. coli O157:H7 infections. Both had eaten at The Boat Shed restaurant on September 10 and had consumed salad ingredients and parsley, which was served with each person’s entree. Laboratory testing and PFGE analysis linked the strain of E. coli to the strain isolated from the four Olive Garden cases reported in mid-September.
Public health officials learned that two additional Washington residents with laboratory-confirmed E. coli O157:H7 were part of the cluster. Seven of the eight individuals identified as part of the E. coli outbreak had eaten fresh parsley served in three separate restaurants.
Health officials in Oregon, aware of the outbreak in Washington State, noticed an increase in E. coli O157:H7 cases in mid-October. More than 20 Bend, Oregon-area residents had become ill after eating at McGrath’s Fish House between October 12 and October 14, 2005. Two of the individuals had submitted stool specimens which cultured positive for the same strain of E. coli O157:H7 as that isolated from the Washington case-patients.
A case-control study implicated parsley served in food or as a garnish as the source of E. coli O157:H7 among McGrath’s Restaurants patrons. Furthermore, Oregon health investigators traced the source of the parsley served at McGrath’s to the same farm that supplied parsley to the Olive Garden and The Boat Shed.
Marler Clark's E. coli lawyers represented a Washington resident in a claim against the parsley supplier. The claim was resolved in 2006.